Google’s chief executive has sent an email to employees encouraging them to return to work in the office for at least three days a week as lockdowns ease.

The firm began reopening offices in April, and has now laid out the details of how it envisages the new hybrid working week.

In the email, Sundar Pichai extols the benefits of office working.

Twitter, by contrast, has said that employees can work from home “forever”.

Facebook has also said that its employees can continue to be home-based.

Google was one of the first companies to offer working from home when the pandemic struck last year. People can continue to work remotely until September.

Previously, Googlers, as staff are known, had to formally apply if they wanted to work from a remote location (other than their home) for more than two weeks. That has now been expanded to four weeks.

In the email, seen by the BBC, Mr Pichai writes about the benefits of being in an office: “For more than 20 years, our employees have been coming to the office to solve interesting problems – in a cafe, around a whiteboard, or during a pick-up game of beach volleyball or cricket.”

He said that in locations where offices had already opened, “we’ve seen nearly 60% of Googlers choosing to come back”.

He added that he envisaged a workforce where 60% were office based, 20% were in “new office locations” and 20% were working from home.

In terms of the numbers of days in each location, he said that teams would come together in the office “approximately three days” a week, and work “wherever suits them best” for two days.

Some teams though would “need to be on site more than three days a week due to the nature of the work”.

Many had assumed that, especially in Silicon Valley, working from home would become the norm post-pandemic.

Mr Pichai, who is Indian-born, also said it was “heartbreaking” to see Covid surging in places such as India and Brazil.

For employees living there he had a simple message: “Please focus on taking care of yourselves and your loved ones. We are here to support however we can.”